The New Zealand players celebrate the dismissal of Azhar Ali © AFP
New Zealand players celebrate the dismissal of Azhar Ali © AFP

Nov 30, 2014

Pakistan finished at a score of 30 for the loss of three wickets after 12 overs at lunch on the fourth day of the third Test against New Zealand at Sharjah on Sunday. Mohammad Hafeez and Misbah-ul-Haq were batting on scores of 18 and one respectively, while Trent Boult had caused the early havoc for the Pakistani batsmen, recording figures of three for 15 after six overs. Pakistan currently trail New Zealand by a massive 309 runs. The tourists were earlier dismissed for a total of 690 from 143.1 overs during the first session, with Mark Craig’s knock of 65 from 85 balls guiding the visitors past their highest Test total of all time.

The day began with New Zealand resuming from their overnight score of 637 for eight, with Mark Craig batting on a score of 34. The New Zealand off-spinner soon completed the 300-run lead, and brought up his second Test fifty by hitting Yasir Shah for a six over long-off. Craig helped New Zealand move past their highest Test total ever in the 141st over. He reached a score of 65, before he got caught and bowled off the bowling of Hafeez, attempting to push a delivery that was pitched on the middle-stump.

Ish Sodhi decided to add another late burst to the New Zealand innings, smashing Hafeez for a six to bring up the milestone of most boundaries every by New Zealand in a Test. Sodhi was ultimately dismissed off the bowling of Yasir Shah in the first delivery of the 143rd over when he got caught in the slips by Younis Khan. New Zealand managed to amass a lead of 339 at the end of the innings, making the task of inserting pressure on the Pakistan batsman easier for the Kiwi bowlers.

It was always going to be an uphill task for the Pakistani batsmen, and it was imperative for the top-order to stick to the crease in order to tackle the situation. That was however, not what Trent Boult had in mind. After Hafeez helped Pakistan move to 15 runs off the the first two overs with a couple of boundaries, Boult struck for the Kiwis, with Shan Masood edging a rising delivery by Boult to the slips, where Southee took a good reflex catch. Azhar Ali walked in to the crease, and was dismissed soon after when he attempted to leave a Boult delivery that was pitched outside off, but turned out to be a beauty of an inswinger, crashing into the off stump.

Younis Khan walked into the crease with a precarious situation at hand. He was expected to return to his run-gathering ways of the recent past, and save Pakistan from a tight spot. Boult’s rampage however, was too much for him as he was trapped leg-before by another inswinger to walk back to the pavilion for a golden duck, making the ongoing Test a blot in his otherwise impeccable recent form. It was not long before New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum decided to introduce Craig, the destroyer-in-chief of Pakistan in their first innings, into the attack.

The Pakistani hopes lie on the pair of Hafeez and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, and they have to bat their hearts out if they are to save their side from an embarrassing innings defeat as well as miss out on a series win.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 351 (Mohammad Hafeez 197, Azhar Ali 39, Misbah-ul-Haq 38; Mark Craig 7 for 94) and 30 for 3 (Mohammad Hafeez 18; Trent Boult 3 for 15) trail New Zealand 690 (Brendon McCullum 202, Kane Williamson 192*, Ross Taylor 50; Corey Anderson 50, Mark Craig 65, Tim Southee 50,; Rahat Ali 4 for 99; Yasir Shah 4 for 193) by 339 runs.

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